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That Darned IE Image Toolbar

Web browsers have always allowed users to save the images from pages they display, but a new feature in Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 annoyingly takes things a step further. Called the Image Toolbar, it not only enables the user to save photos off the web, it literally pops up and prompts them to do so. For a company that spends a great deal of time trying to stop software piracy, it is quite surprising how little regard Microsoft has for the copyrights of content providers. As a photographer who makes at least a portion of his income from the sales and licensing of images, I object to the fact that they have chosen to do this, and I'd like to take this opportunity to alert other photographers about the problem and what they can do about it.

Basically, the Image Toolbar pops up when a user moves their mouse over any image that is at least 130x130 pixels on any webpage (except for those that use an image map). The infamous Image ToolbarAppearing over the upper left-hand corner of the image, it prompts the user to either save the image, print it, or email it to a friend. No consideration is given to the fact that images on web pages are copyrighted and all rights reserved unless explicitly granted by the author. Microsoft does provide the rather weak disclaimer that "these electronic snapshot-type pictures are intended for your personal use. They are not meant for specialized Web page design, camera-ready artwork, or similar purposes." If you've ever read a typical Microsoft software license agreement, you know that they take the protection of their own intellectual property a bit more seriously than they seem to other peoples.

So, what do you do about it? Many people have already added code to their pages to disable the right-mouse-click popup menu, but this won't stop the Image Toolbar. Microsoft is kind enough, however, to provide web authors a means to opt out of the Image Toolbar. To disable it for all images on a page, add the following meta tag to the top of your page:

     <meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="no">

To deactivate it for just a single image, you can add the galleryimg attribute to the image tag as follows:

     <img src="filename.jpg" galleryimg="no">

What I would have preferred, of course, is that the Image Toolbar be off by default unless a web content provider explicitly opted in to enable it, but such is not the case. Microsoft does make some good software, but sometimes, just like other big companies, they just don't get it.

For more information straight from the source on the Image Toolbar, please click here.

Date posted: May 26, 2002


Copyright © 2002 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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